Choosing the Right Fishing Line
By David Obirek (Team Harvester Outdoors)
I don’t think that there has been any topic more confusing in all of my years fishing than the discussions surrounding fishing line and what is the best type to use. Is fishing line really that difficult to understand? The answer to some might be yes, but once you have a better understanding of the types of lines available and what their limitations are, you might be surprised how uncomplicated it is. I will lay out the basics about the three most common types of line. This way you can apply the line options available to your own fishing needs and select the type that fits your situation best.
Monofilament or Mono:
Monofilament line or just Mono is one of the most popular types of fishing line and it was likely the first line you ever had on your reel. However, things have changed and lines have evolved over the years with many brands and options becoming available. This does not mean that mono is headed to your local museum. In fact, mono remains very popular and definitely has its place under certain conditions. Mono is an easy line to use and is adaptable to many styles of knots as is easily castable. It’s made of a single strand of nylon, has low visibility but has a larger diameter than other line options. It also stretches which can be a bonus if the drag on your reel happens to be set a little too tight. This will allow some forgiveness preventing your line from breaking after a good hook set. Mono floats, has good abrasion resistance and is the most economical of fishing lines. The down side to his line is that it tends to weaken over time especially after being exposed to varying temperatures. It also retains water and is sensitive to ultraviolet light causing it to weaken over time. You may find yourself changing your line more frequently with mono. Fishing applications used with monofilament line is jigging for walleye, casting crankbaits and using top-water baits.
Fluorocarbon or Fluoro:
Fluorocarbon or simply Fluoro in its shortened form is a single strand of polyvinylidene fluoride that has a very low visibility, a thin diameter and has good sensitivity. Its low visibility makes it virtually invisible under water and is ideal in clear water conditions. It has some stretch however not as much as mono. Fluoro doesn’t absorb water so its properties remain the same regardless in temperature changes. It is also denser then water so it sinks. Fluoro has very good abrasion resistance and can be used for fishing in areas with thicker cover. It casts further than mono and can be used with different knot types. Just make sure you moisten the line when securing the knot to avoid slippage. Fluoro tends to be stiffer than mono and the cost is also a little heavier on the wallet. Since Fluoro sinks, it’s not always the best option for certain fishing applications. Fluorocarbon is always a good choice when using crank baits because it sinks and allows better running depth. It also makes a good leader line when used in conjunction with other line such as braid or super-lines.
Braid and Super-lines:
Braid or super-lines have greatly increased in popularity the last handful of decades. They are made by weaving fibers of a man-made material like Spectra or Micro-Dyneema into a strand of line. This material allows braided line to be very tough and abrasion resistant. Braid also has a thin diameter and can cut through heavy vegetation due to its strength. It floats, has almost zero stretch, is very sensitive and has good casting distance with good hook-set ability. Super-lines are more tolerant to line twisting so they work very well on a spinning reel. Braided line can be slippery so it is not adaptable to all styles of knots. A Palomar knot is a proven knot that works well. Braid is also visible in the water so adding a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader will provide not only stretch so that fish don’t shake the hook off, but removes the visible braid from the fishes vision. Super-lines can be expensive for upfront costs however they last a long time so you will not have to replace it nearly as often as you would with monofilament therefore saving money in the long-run.
As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer. If you are looking for just one line to suit all of your needs and want to keep things manageable, versatile and affordable for the entry-level angler then my recommendation is monofilament. If you are an intermediate or seasoned angler, you might want to expand your fishing rod arsenal and have a few line options available when hitting the water. This will allow you to switch gears to address changing conditions, lure type and techniques.
David Obirek is a proud member of Team Harvester Outdoors and is a competitive angler who competes on the Central Walleye Trail- CWT. David is the co-founder of the Selkirk Youth Fishing Initiative (SYFI) that provides fishing opportunities to local youth. David is also a Fishing Ambassador for Red River North Tourism.